As the temperature outside heats up, so does the action in MVC play. Northern Iowa is the team to beat right now as they remain undefeated having swept all three of their Conference series. UNI will face Drake (8-1 in Conference) at home this weekend. Creighton has taken this week's State Farm MVC Player and Pitcher of the Week awards.
NCAA Leading Marks
In the NCAA Division I softball rankings, five Missouri Valley Conference schools have eight top-25 rankings. The Valley has 22 individual rankings in Division 1 softball as well:
Team Top-25 marks:
Creighton (25th) – Batting Average
Creighton (12th) – Scoring
Southern Illinois (13th) – Scoring
UNI (9th) – Doubles per Game
UNI (25th) – Triples per Game
Drake (9th) – Stolen Bases per Game
Creighton (23rd) – Slugging Percentage
Bradley (21st) – Double Plays per Game
Individual Top-25 marks:
Amy Baker, CU (9th) – Runs Batted In Per Game
Mackenzie Daigh, UNI (25th) – Doubles Per Game
Rebekah Schmidt, DU (5th) – Saves
Katie Bertelsen, SIU (8th) – Saves
Alexis Cantu, CU (3rd) – Walks
Bailiegh Basham, BU (7th) – Walks
Mallory Duran-Sellers, SIU (8th) – Walks
Mallory Duran-Sellers, SIU (11th) – Runs per Game
Kelsea Ashton, SIU (1st) – Sacrifice Hits per Game
Christa Ruf, CU (12th) – Sacrifice Hits per Game
Allie Vadeboncouer, SIU (6th) – Hit by Pitch per Game
Erin Carney, WSU (12th) – Hit by Pitch per Game
Hannah Borschel, UNI (23rd) – Hit by Pitch per Game
Jaimie Duffek, DU (22nd) – Toughest to Strikeout
Natalie Rose, MSU (6th) – Walks Allowed Per Seven Innings
Bailiegh Basham, BU (15th) – On Base Percentage
Mallory Duran-Sellers (17th) – On Base Percentage
Alexis Cantu, CU (20th) – On Base Percentage
Elizabeth Kay, ILS (17th) – Sacrifice Flies
Hayley Nybo, DU (17th) – Sacrifice Flies
Jayna Spivey, SIU (17th) – Sacrifice Flies
Jordan Birch, ILS (19th) - Shutouts
RPI: Three in the top-100
Three Missouri Valley Conference teams - Illinois State (34), Southern Illinois (70) and UNI (99) - are among the nation's top-100 teams as of the March 26 NCAA RPI ratings.
Basham Breaks Walks Record
Sophomore Bailiegh Basham drew a pair of walks late in Bradley’s 2-1, eight-inning victory against Evansville Sunday to break the BU season record for walks. Basham, who entered last week’s action fourth in the country in walks per game, has drawn 28 base on balls this season to break the previous school season record of 27 walks by Taylor Cox in 2010. Currently averaging 0.93 walks per game, Basham’s .544 on base percentage would also be a school record.
Hot at Home
Not only did the temperatures reach record highs last week in Omaha as the Bluejays played at home for the first time this year, but the Creighton bats were on fire. Creighton won each of their first five home games last week, crushing the opposition by outscoring South Dakota and Indiana State by a combined 44-6 tally. The Jays hit .419 last week, crushing seven home runs in their first five home games. The week included a 15-1 drubbing of South Dakota, the Jays’ highest scoring home game since 2000 and a 12-run inning against Indiana State, believed to be the second-highest scoring inning in school history (and tied for 19th in NCAA history). CU pitching also excelled at home, allowing just two earned runs for a 0.48 ERA through five games, while the Coyotes and Sycamores combined for just 16 hits and a .162 batting average last week.
Staying in the State
The opening game in the Bradley series was the first of 12 games for the Bulldogs that will be played in the state of Iowa. Drake will not travel outside of the state until they go to Normal, Ill. to face the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday, April 14.
Robey’s On The Right Track
Junior Tamara Robey has notched a hit in five of the Aces’ last six games, after her five-game hitting streak was snapped on Sunday against Bradley. The Evansville, Ind., native finished the week batting .235 with a double and a pair of stolen bases.
First of the Season
Senior pitcher Megan Warner surrendered eight hits in Tuesday’s win at Northern Illinois, but did not allow a run to secure her first shutout of the 2012 season. The Milan, Ill., native recorded three strikeouts and allowed just one extra base hit to win her seventh decision of the year. Warner stranded seven Huskies on base through the first three innings, including five in scoring position.
The Indiana State pitching staff continues to be much improved over the 2011 version as the Sycamores ERA 30 games into the 2011 campaign was 4.33. The Sycamore pitching staff currently holds a 2.89 ERA and has 25 more strikeouts than at this point last season.
Senior pitcher Natalie Rose leads the league in fewest walks allowed (14). She made four appearances last week without issuing a free pass. In fact, Rose has not allowed a walk in 15 of her 22 outings. Rose is ranked sixth in the country with 0.84 walks per seven innings pitched.
Keeping the Streak Alive
UNI is currently on an 11 game win streak, this streak ties for the longest win streak the program has put together since the 1989 season when UNI first competed at the division I softball level. UNI will play Tuesday afternoon against the Leathernecks of Western Illinois for a chance to add to the winning streak and have a record of their own.
The Charlotte West Advantage
Home field advantage has been key for the Salukis’ success in the past two seasons in both regular season and conference action. The Salukis are 8-2 at home this season and 4-2 in Missouri Valley Conference action. They hold an impressive 33-7 record at Charlotte West Stadium in the past three and a half years combined in their conference slate.
The Shockers have not lost a conference game by more than three runs.
State Farm MVC Player of the Week
Amy Baker, Junior, Omaha, Neb. - Creighton
Junior Amy Baker enjoyed her long-awaited return home last week, helping the Bluejays go 5-0 in their first five home games of the season. She led the Bluejays with a .600 average last week, going 6-for-10 with four walks and no strike outs at the plate. She scored five runs and drove in a team-best eight runs last week, while also crushing her 38th career home run to move alone into second place on the Creighton career home run chart. In Creighton’s 15-1 win over South Dakota on Wednesday, she went 2-for-2 with three RBI, a home run and two runs scored. The Omaha native went 1-for-1 with a walk, a sac fly and three RBI against Indiana State in the series opener and had an RBI single in the night cap on Saturday as well. In the series finale she went 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored. Splitting time between catcher and first base, the junior was perfect in the field, with 22 putouts and three assists.
State Farm MVC Pitcher of the Week
Becca Changstrom, Sophomore, Lincoln, Neb. - Creighton
Sophomore Becca Changstrom returned to the form which earned her all-conference honors as a freshman last year, going 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA in three complete games last week. Opponents hit just .145 against the Bluejay right-hander, as she allowed only nine hits and one run in 19 innings of work. The sophomore struck out 23 hitters, including a season-high 11 against South Dakota on Wednesday, when she allowed just three hits in a 4-1 victory. She then tossed back-to-back shutouts against Indiana State, tossing a five-inning two-hitter on Saturday and scattering four singles in a 4-0 win in the series finale on Sunday.
Other notable performances:
Alex Chandler, Bradley
Chandler hit .500 with a run and team-best five RBI during the week, helping Bradley take two of three games from Evansville. In the weekend serried with UE, Chandler was 4-for-8 with a home run, two RBI, a run scored and boasted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 23 chances. Against Western Illinois, she drew a two-out, bases loaded walk to tie the game at 2-2 and gave the Braves a 4-2 lead with a two-run, bases loaded single in the top of the seventh. Chandler helped highlight a 6-0 victory against Evansville with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate and drove in both of BU’s runs in a 2-1, eight-inning victory in the series finale against the Purple Aces.
Lindsey Vande Wall, Drake
Lindsey Vande Wall was 4-11 (.364) with one home run, three RBI, one run scored and one double in the four games last week. Vande Wall’s three-run blast in Saturday’s second game against Missouri State propelled Drake to the win.
Kayla Fortner, Evansville
Freshman Kayla Fortner hit .357 at the plate this week, going 5-for-14 with four doubles and a pair of multi-hit games. Fortner finished Saturday’s doubleheader at Bradley going 4-for-6 with three doubles to help the Aces split with the Braves. The Cedar Hills, Mo., native still leads the league with a .429 season batting average, ranking second with nine doubles on the year, averaging .29 two-baggers per game.
Melissa Walls, UNI
Junior outfielder Melissa Walls had an outstanding week at the plate putting together a .444 batting average. Walls started 3 games for the Panthers getting 9 at bats where she collected 4 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI.
Taylor Orsburn, Southern Illinois
Taylor Orsburn continued her hot hitting streak as she went 5-for-13 in four games last week for the Salukis. The sophomore first baseman had two doubles and seven total bases with a .538 slugging percentage against SIUE and Illinois State. She also had a run scored and a .385 on-base percentage as well as a perfect fielding percentage for the week.
Erin Carney, Wichita State
Sophomore Erin Carney continued her hot streak at the plate another week batting .444 and collecting two home runs and four RBI’s in three narrow defeats to conference leader Northern Iowa. The Andale, Kan. native was also hit by her twelfth pitch of the season.
Madeline Lynch-Crumrine, Bradley
Lynch-Crumrine posted a 2-1 record with a 0.86 ERA in four appearances during the week. In the weekend series against Evansville, Lynch-Crumrine gave up just one run in 16.1 innings for a 0.43 ERA. She tossed two perfect innings of scoreless relief in the series opener against Evansville, not allowing a single runner to reach base. She continued her solid pitching into the nightcap of the doubleheader, surrendering just four hits in 6.1 innings in a 6-0 Bradley victory. In the series finale, Lynch-Crumrine stretched her scoreless streak to 11 innings before giving up a single run with two outs in the third inning. Lynch-Crumrine gave up just one more hit in the final five innings of work as she made just 83 pitches in the complete game eight inning win.
Rebekah, Schmidt, Drake
Freshman Rebekah Schmidt went 1-2 with a 1.17 ERA and collected one save in the four games last week. Schmidt collected 12 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched and allowed just two earned runs on eight hits.
Sarah Patterson, Evansville
Junior Sarah Patterson logged 17.0 innings of work for the Aces this week, tallying a 2.47 ERA while picking up her sixth win of the year. Patterson pitched a two-hitter in the complete-game win over Bradley, allowing just one run while striking out six Braves. On the week, Patterson gave up six earned runs on 13 hits while picking up ten strikeouts.
Jordan Birch, Illinois State
Birch was stellar once again in the circle for Illinois State, allowing just one earned run in 13.0 innings against the Valley’s best offensive team in Southern Illinois. The Monroe, Wash., native tossed a five-hit shutout in the opener in the Redbirds’ 5-0 win, striking out five Salukis without issuing a walk. Birch did not allow a runner to advance past first base after the third inning. She allowed just six hits in her six innings, notched four more strikeouts and issued her first walk in her last four starts, a span of 25 innings as a starter.
Jaye Hutcheson, UNI
Senior pitcher Jaye Hutcheson had an impressive week in the circle for the Panthers going 2-0 on the week. Beginning Tuesday afternoon Jaye tossed a one hit shutout in her 8-0 victory over the Cyclones of Iowa State. In her second appearance Jaye tossed a full Seven innings against the Shockers of Wichita State where she picked up her second win.
Alyssa Wunderlich, Southern Illinois
Freshman Alyssa Wunderlich led the Salukis in the circle this week as she went 1-0 with a save with a 0.62 ERA against Illinois State in the weekend series. The freshman hurler threw five strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work for the Salukis. Wunderlich grabbed the win in the series finale between the Salukis and Redbirds. She held opponents to a .233 batting average for the week and allowed just one run to score as she appeared in all three games, starting two, in the conference series.